Antoine Keller, the 19-year-old French-Swiss goaltender trained at Genève-Servette, chronicles his season in the Maritimes Quebec Junior Hockey League. Here is the second episode.
After talking to you about my first career goal in the previous episode, I can finally address the topic of bus travel. This is one of the main things that has struck me since arriving in Canada this summer. When I played in Geneva, the longest trips were when we went to Ticino, or Davos, they lasted around six hours and it was quite an adventure.
Here, the shortest trip lasts two hours. The rest between five and eight, with some exceptions. We will return to this later in this column. And the comfort is not the same by far.
“I have to spread my legs to sit down, otherwise my knees touch the seat in front.”
In Canada, we took the same buses as on a school trip, the ones where it’s almost impossible to tilt the seat back without disturbing the teammate behind. Since I’m tall, I have to spread my legs to sit, otherwise my knees touch the front seat. So I travel sitting badly. I’m not going to lie to you, when you drive eight hours it’s a bit long.
Coming soon the biggest road trip of the season
Until now, I was talking to you about traveling when we play teams in our division. When we play against teams from other divisions the days are even longer. Fortunately, the league is organized so that we only travel to these opponents once a season.
Soon we will have our biggest road trip of the season (Gatineau – Rouyn-Noranda – Val-d’Or). The return journey from Val-d’Or to Bathurst will take sixteen hours! Normally we should do this in two days and sleep at the hotel. I’ve already planned books and series to make the trip go by faster.
It sounds like I’m complaining, but these trips also have positive sides. They help to strengthen team spirit and create good memories. When we were in Quebec, we took the opportunity to go to a restaurant. The funniest anecdote remains when we watch, on the bus, the quarter-finals of the Junior World Cup between Canada and the Czech Republic.
I was the only one supporting the Czechs and they won! All my teammates were disappointed, they were a little arrogant and convinced that Canada would win. I managed to tease them a little by telling them that Canada isn’t what it used to be in the hockey world.